Last updated on March 11th, 2012
WHEN IS A WEED NOT A WEED? When it’s the incredible, edible Portulca oleracea. You might know this prolific plant with succulent green leaves, reddish stems and a prostrate habit as Purslane, Pigweed, Little Hogweed or Verdolagas. But after reading this post, I swear you’ll call it your friend. Look at the health benefits it offers:
Talk about a powerhouse of nutrition! Not only is oleracea rich in vitamins A, C and E, plus iron, calcium and potassium, it contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable in the world. Even my beloved spinach can’t make this claim.
As for taste, I’ve found that stems cut in the morning are rather lemony. Picked in the afternoon, they are pleasantly bitter, like arugula.
Only in the United States is this plant woefully ignored. In Greece, chopped stems and leaves are commonly combined with Feta cheese and olives for a famous salad. Other cultures rely on the mucilaginous quality of the leaves to thicken soups and stews. My Mexican neighbor likes to saute both the stems and leaves for Pork with Mole Sauce; she also uses them in a scrumptious egg dish.
Mind looking for this wondrous weed on your property? I only ask because I wish to post a recipe which uses the plant. (Update: here’s the recipe.) It tends to favor sunny, dry spots. As you can see in the photo above, mine grows with utter frequency between the the gaps of the brick walkway in my Rose Garden.
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